DIY

DIY – Tahitian Vanilla Extract

DIY-Vanilla Extract

Last month I was bottling Vanilla Extract like a mad woman.

Why?

Because it’s RAD!

Not only are you able to control exactly what goes into your product but it’s simple and yields wonderful results. It’s quite cost effective, especially if you go through as much vanilla as I do. And these super cute bottles make great gifts, too!

I used Tahitian vanilla beans for my extracts but you can opt for pods from Madagascar or Mexico if you prefer. Buying them in bulk (I get mine online) will also get you the best bang for your buck.

After your extracts have been bottled, you’ll want to age them for a minimum of 2 months before use. And once your bottle runs low, just fill it up with more vodka to restart the process.

Happy DIY-ing!

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DIY Vanilla Extract
Makes (2) 4-Ounce Bottles

Ingredients:

2 4-ounce resealable bottles
4 Vanilla Bean Pods, split lengthwise
8 ounces Vodka

Wash and dry the bottles.

Place two of the split vanilla beans in each of the bottles. Fill each bottle with 4 ounces of vodka and seal tightly. Gently shake the bottles and store in a cool, dark location.

Shake the bottles every few days for 2 months. The vanilla extract is ready to use as early as 2 months, however 3+months is recommended.

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Desserts/Pastries

“I’m a Big Boy” Cupcakes

Last month my friend Ashley put in a unique cupcake request to celebrate a momentous occasion in her eldest son’s life—Potty Training! In an effort to get him excited about this new phase in his life, she was throwing him a “Bye-Bye Diapers” celebration and wanted cuppies with some undies on them 🙂

I was intrigued and quickly accepted the challenge. Instead of worrying about cake flavors and frosting types (like I usually do when filling orders), I was consumed with how to best illustrate these whimsical cuppies and enlisted the help of the BF. Isaiah is quite artsy and always is able to create some beautiful work. And yes, I realize that I’m a lucky gal for dragging in the BF to not only decorate cupcakes but make BVDs!

For the cake, I settled on a simple Vanilla batter as I find that kids “J’s” age gravitate more to the classics–chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. Amy Sedaris’ Vanilla Cupcakes were just the trick to a quick and tasty Vanilla cuppie. As for the frosting, kids typically like frosting better than the cake–and usually the sweeter the better! My standard quick-vanilla-butter cream-frosting was in order.

And finally, the decorations—which turned out to be the most difficult decision. I knew I would be happier with the overall look if I used Fondant for it’s smooth, clean lines and it would be much easier to cut shapes out of it. However, if you’re anything like me, I really am not a fan of the taste or texture of eating fondant. And if I don’t like it, I can’t expect the kiddies to either. After much deliberation, I settled on a diplomatic compromise. For the “flavor”, half the cupcakes would have a big mound of butter cream frosting and be topped with a “BVD” fondant  decoration. For the “look”, the other half of the cupcakes would be covered in all fondant.

The process with the fondant was actually quite fun! One just needs a bit of cornstarch to ensure it doesn’t stick while rolling it out and you need to be sure to store the unused fondant in airtight containers to prevent it from drying out. Isaiah and I got a pretty nice assembly line pumping them out, too. I’d primarily roll out the fondant and cut the “BVD” shapes and he would pipe the red accents using colored royal icing. For these cuppies, I used Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing recipe as it uses meringue powder instead of egg whites. This is particular nice since some folks are wary of using/eating raw eggs.

We were quite happy with the end result of our “I’m a Big Boy Cupcakes”.  It had a great playfulness from the bright colors we chose and of course, because of the “BVDs”. The Big Guy also seemed to enjoy them as he took a big whomping bite directly from the top–frosting, fondant, and all!

Just goes to show–No decoration is too silly. And in fact, the more silly–the better!!!

Wishing you tons of Luck, “J”! You’re a BIG BOY, now! 🙂

Cupcakes packed and ready to go!


“J” Approved 🙂 Pic courtesy of his proud, Mama.